In 1750, Samuel Johnson noted that almost every person that’s lived could be the subject of a useful biography. I love that idea. He writes, “We are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire and seduced by pleasure.” The fact that we share so much with other humans means we have much to learn from them.
My Dad taught me to try to treat everyone I meet with dignity and respect (though still having a good time with them) because everyone has something to teach me. I’ve failed at this often, but when I succeed I’m generally rewarded.
I’ve taken to reading a short essay every morning from the Oxford Book of Essays. You can read this morning’s essay by Samuel Johnson titled Dignity and Uses of Biography by following the link. Besides the encouragement to learn from those I meet, the essay also prompted me to start reading more biographies.
Johnson writes, “No species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography, since none can be more delightful or more useful.”
Do you ever read biographies? Whatever topic interests you, find a related biography and give it a try. I’ve been so moved by several biographies over the years, gaining insight into a specific person, humanity and myself.
What’s the favorite biography you’ve read? What might you consider reading? Please consider actually answering these questions in the comment section. This blog will be much more fun if we get some dialogue going.
What about you?